Popular
Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

With live performances out of the picture during the lockdown, artists need support from radio now more than ever.

Pressure Increases for SABC to Support South African Artists During the Coronavirus Crisis

'Let us see local content dominating our lives especially at this time to help artists earn a living,' says South Africa's minister of sports, arts and culture.

South African minister of sports, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa says the country's public broadcaster SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) needs to play more South African content to assist artists during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

"Local content isn't played as much as it should in South Africa," Minister Nathi Mthethwa said during a media briefing today. "Once more, as we pleaded then, we are pleading again, that let us see local content dominating our lives especially at this time to help artists earn a living. Sometime next week or the week after, we will be engaging our public broadcaster to ensure we really see this local content. It doesn't help us having needle time benefitting artists in the UK, the US when we have artists in the country starving."


When the South African government banned gatherings of more than 100 people in March, a unanimous cry followed from the country's artists whose main revenue stream—live shows—was blocked. As the number of infected people rose in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa enforced a countrywide lockdown which has been going on for close to 40 days.

As the lockdown continues, it leaves artists in a dire position as it looks like live shows won't be making a return anytime soon. Artists and fans have been urging the SABC to play more South African content on its network of radio and TV platforms, which are among the biggest in the country.

Currently, by government regulations, commercial radio stations are obliged to play 35% of South African music, while the quota for SA music on public radio stations is 60%.

When the lockdown began in April, South African musician RJ Benjamin called on radio stations to play "strictly local artists during lockdown." "SA artists need your help beyond this difficult period and you have the ability to provide some of royalty income for artists when Covid-19 subsides," the artist pleaded in a tweet in March.

Read: When Will SABC Show Some Respek for South Africa's Young Talent?

The quota for South African music on the country's radio and TV platforms has been a subject of discussion for years. In 2016, artists almost won the battle when the SABC's then COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng implemented a 90% quota for South African music. But the rapidness resulted in a blunder as the organization seemed unprepared and played old South African music to reach its own quota. This resulted in the quota being scraped as it lost the SABC millions in advertising revenue after listenership dwindled amid the chaos.

Today, artists are still singing the same song. Black Coffee, told City Press on Sunday, "As South Africa, most African countries look up to us, but the same countries are more patriotic than ours. It is quite embarrassing, to be honest."

South African artists continue to hold a very small share of the country's music industry. The 10 most streamed artists on Apple Music since the platform launched in SA in 2015 have all been international—Drake, Ed Sheeran, Post Malone, Eminem etc. Spotify is not any different—the most streamed artists, songs and albums of 2019 were all international.

South African artists have been crying foul to the government as they feel neglected during the Covid-19 crisis. The government stated it couldn't offer freelancers any relief and provided a meagre R150 million (approximately $54,000) relief fund for the country's sports, arts and culture sector.

Popular
Still from 'Road to Yesterday'

Kayode Kasum’s Quarantine Watchlist

From 'Wives on Strike' to 'Goodwill Hunting' here's what the Nigerian filmmaker is watching while stuck at home in Lagos.

Kayode Kasum, like most filmmakers, has been stagnated by the coronavirus pandemic. The director behind the blockbuster Sugar Rush and the critically acclaimed Oga Bolaji was working on the post-production of his upcoming movies, The Fate of Alakada: Party Planner and Kambili—a collaboration between FilmOne Entertainment and Chinese Huahua Media— when the Nigerian government announced the lockdown order.

While post-production on Alakada has concluded, the stay-at-home orders have delayed work on Kambili. "Since the team cannot meet at a single point, we are moving hard drives left and right," he says to me over the phone from his home in Lagos. "It is a challenge, but the beautiful thing about a challenge is, when you make it work, it is fulfilling."

Still from 'Kambili'

Kasum has turned to books and films for an escape from the unpleasant realities of the pandemic. "I have been reading Elnathan's books: Born on a Tuesday and Becoming Nigeria," he tells me. "I have also been reading film directing books, Directing Actors by Judith Weston." However, Kasum longs for the movies. "I miss going to the cinemas; I miss that experience," he says. "There are times during this pandemic that I'm like 'na wa o, I wish I can go to the cinema.'"

Below are five films he recommends you watch during this pandemic.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Listen to Mr Eazi's New Song 'I No Go Give Up On You'

The Nigerian artist also recently announced an upcoming EP.